28 October 2011, Sweetcrude, Kaduna – The Pipelines and Products Marketing Company (PPMC), a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, has been accused by bitumen marketers of sabotaging the distribution and sales of the product.
The company is also accused of encouraging the importation of bitumen to the detriment of the Nigerian product.
The marketers, under the umbrella of Oil and Gas Suppliers Association (OGSA), an arm of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas workers (NUPENG), alleged that the management of the Kaduna office of the PPMC deliberately refused to give them bitumen even after they had paid for allocation.
They claimed that some importers of bitumen had petitioned the PPMC complaining that after importing bitumen which they sold at about N145,000 per metric ton, PPMC still sold its own bitumen for N75,000 per ton, putting them at a loss.
Some of the marketers who spoke to newsmenin Kaduna on condition of anonymity said they had been given allocations but have been denied access to load.
“We were given allocation for bitumen which we paid for. We were asked to come for loading. But after loading only three trucks, we were sent out on the excuse that they want to increase the price of the product,” one of the marketers explained.
He continued: “We also observe that for the past three years, they will only give us products during the rainy season when road constructions are not going on. But during the dry season, they will deny us products.
“The top management is in link with some importers. We later heard that these importers wrote a petition that the government asked them to import bitumen when there was none in the country and that while they are selling their own for N145,000 per ton, the PPMC is selling its own for N75,000 per ton.
“So, what they want is for the PPMC to stop selling its own until they have finished selling the imported one. We believe that this is an act of sabotage on government efforts at rehabilitating our roads and this explains why road construction is so expensive in the country today”.
The marketers alleged that there was enough bitumen in the store at the Kaduna Refining and Petrochemical Company at moment and that the refinery was not producing now because there was no more space to store the products.
“Most of us have our allocation papers which we have paid for. It has an expiring date and in most cases, they will refuse to renew it and for the past two months, they have refused to load our trucks,” one of the marketers said.